Vehicle fatalities drop, pedestrian toll continues to rise
There is both good news and bad news in the latest government accounting of highway fatalities.
The good news: The number of people who died in vehicle crashes in 2018 dropped 2.4%, to 36,560, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported this week.
- That's 913 fewer people than in 2017, and the second year in a row that highway fatalities have dropped.
- NHTSA credited new car safety technology, and noted that alcohol- and speeding-related fatalities were both lower.
Now, the bad news, which is getting worse: Pedestrian and cyclist deaths keep rising.
- 6,283 pedestrians were killed by cars in 2018, up 3.4%.
- 857 cyclists died in vehicle crashes, up 6.3%.
- The vast majority of those deaths occurred after dark, NHTSA says.
- Pedestrian deaths are up 50% in the past decade, reports Wired.
Distraction could be a factor — by both motorists and pedestrians — but the popularity of trucks and SUVs could also be contributing to the spike in pedestrian deaths.
- Taller, heavier vehicles are more likely to strike a person in the torso or head, rather than in the legs.
What to watch: The NHTSA plans to upgrade its 5-star rating system for new vehicles to include technologies for pedestrian and cyclist safety.
- Yes, but: So far, AAA testing shows that pedestrian detection and braking systems don't work very well.